Nothing about L without L; or, Back to Home(School) We Go!

Well, it’s been a pretty long time since I last blogged. Between moving in winter and preparing L to go to public school in August, we unschooled pretty much through August. Enter August when she was whole-grade accelerated as a young 5 into an excellent teacher’s first-grade classroom in an excellent school. After her initial excitement wore off, it became clear that school wasn’t working for her. She was frustrated and shutting down related to writing and bored in math and reading. By mid-September, we had a sad child on our hands, one who didn’t want to go to school. By late September we had a child who cried at night that she had school the next day. By October we had a child who entered into control struggles (even more so than usual!). We had a child who took an hour or more of active fighting to get through a few sheets of homework (but who knew the content perfectly). We had a child who asked, over and over again, to be homeschooled again.

“Nothing about us without us” is a battle cry of the disability rights movement – it’s the idea that no matter how good any proposed solution is, it’s not a good solution if it’s developed, decided upon, and/or implemented without the inclusion of those whose lives it would affect.

We asked lots of questions of people we trust. We tried to remember that no decision is permanent.

We met with the school. A wonderful interdisciplinary team proposed a solution: Put her in kindergarten in the mornings for writing and social stuff with subject-area acceleration for reading and math in the afternoon. But, there were no places in kindergarten in the school she was already at, so this would all be at a different school in the same district. My child, who was already overwhelmed and stressed out, would need to ride a different bus to a different school to have a different set of peers in the morning with a different teacher and then have another different set of peers in the afternoon with another different teacher… so while the paper looked good on paper, we simply felt it was too much transition and stress for her at this point. Maybe if that’s what we’d tried since August, but not for a mid-year change.

We also joke (not a joke) that another way that L takes after me is that things are “dead to her”. Once I perceive someone has wronged me, they are “dead to me”. When I’m done obsessively eating pickles for a month, they are “dead to me”. It’s not my most endearing trait, but there it is. Anyway, L has picked that up. Things become dead to her. We were pretty sure that the school she was attending was going to be dead to her if we tried to re-enroll her at it next year. Another consideration was that if we tried this other school in district, it too would be dead to her. At least if we held it in reserve, we could try it in the future and she might not immediately turn off to it.

We listened to our guts. We listened to voices on the internet of other parents who had been in similar situations. The blog post Hard Won Truths helped immensely. But most importantly, we listened to L.

She was telling us that the situation wasn’t working for her. She was telling us with words and behaviors. She proposed a solution that would work better for her. While it requires sacrifice on our parts to logistically make it happen, who are we to ignore her words? We can’t always do what’s ideal for our children, but in this case, we could.

So we did.

Welcome back to home(schooling).

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